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New Kiln Boosts Efficiency, Lumber Quality -- Bibler Brothers Lumber Turns to Uni Temp, Tinsley Consulting for Continuous Dry Kiln System

Bibler Brothers Lumber – Uni Temp, Tinsley Consulting Supply Continuous Dry Kiln System

By Carolee Anita Boyles
Date Posted: 12/1/2008


RUSSELVILLE, Arkansas — Terry Freeman, president of Bibler Brothers Lumber Company, is a man who hates waste. When he heard about a way to improve efficiency in his company’s lumber drying operations while reducing his fuel bill at the same time, he was all ears.

            As a result, Bibler Bros. Lumber has installed a state-of-the-art continuous dry kiln that goes into operation this month.

            Bibler Brothers operates one of the most modern Southern pine lumber manufacturing facilities in the U.S. The mill produces high quality southern pine boards, dimension material, timbers, and 5/4 premium decking. The mill employs about 170 people, covers about 120 acres and will produce about 114 million board feet of lumber in 2008.

            The company dries 100% of its lumber production, taking it from 58% moisture content down to no more than 19%.

            Terry Freeman, the owner of Bibler Brothers, recently considered converting the dry kilns from natural gas, which the company has used for years, to wood waste. He conferred with Doug Tinsley of Tinsley Consulting Group.

            “Doug made me aware of some work Andy Pollard was doing at Pollard Lumber Company in Georgia with his kilns,” Terry said.

            The innovative project at Pollard Lumber resulted in a continuous drying kiln technology that recycles moisture and heat through the kiln to reduce fuel and improve lumber drying efficiency.

            “I had two existing gas-fired Uni Temp kilns that I was going to convert to wood waste,” Terry said. “I went over and looked at what Andy was doing and really liked it.”

            The difference in lumber quality and drying efficiency, including reduced fuel consumption, was significant, Terry noted.

            “The quality of the lumber coming out of the continuous drying kiln was exceptional, and the energy efficiency of the kiln was amazing,” he said. “He’s using energy that we’ve been wasting all these years. I’d never seen lumber dried so consistently across the packages. We had never been able to dry lumber to that standard even though we considered ourselves fairly good at drying lumber.”

            Terry began planning to convert his Uni Temp kilns to the same type of continuous drying technology that Pollard Lumber developed. He went to Uni Temp and the Tinsley Consulting Group, and utilizing the technology licensed from Pollard, they helped him design kiln extensions that would incorporate the continuous kiln drying concepts.

 

Company History

            Bibler Bros. Lumber opened its doors in 1909 when David Bibler started a sawmill in a small community then known as Lee Mountain. He moved the mill to Scottsville in 1928 and ran it there until 1960.

            Bibler Brothers bought the Russellville branch of the Arkmor Lumber Company in 1955 and operated under the name of Bibler Brothers Lumber and Supply Company. The Scottsville and Russellville mills operated simultaneously until the spring of 1960, when the Scottsville operation was discontinued.

            In 1961 the company bought the present site on Highway 7 and proceeded to combine both mills at that location.  The retail portion of the company was discontinued in 1964.  The company then began to operate as a manufacturing and wholesale lumber company, as it is to this date. A fire destroyed the sawmill in 1969 but it was reconstructed and completed in 1970.

            In 1973 Bibler Brothers merged with Great Northern Nekoosa Corp. and became a division of Nekoosa Papers Inc. out of Port Edwards, Wisconsin. During that period, Terry came to work for Bibler Brothers. Terry began his career with Bibler Brothers as a laborer in Russellville in 1978. He was promoted to assistant foreman in 1982 and in 1986 moved to electrical maintenance.

            In 1986, James and Laurie Bibler purchased Bibler Brothers from Nekoosa. In 1990 they promoted Terry again, this time to vice president and general manager; he served in that capacity until he was named president in 1993.

            Terry purchased the mill from James and Laurie Bibler in 1998, and he signed an agreement to manufacture lumber for Weyerhaeuser. He bought another sawmill in Idabel, Oklahoma from Georgia Pacific in 2000 and produced lumber at that location for Weyerhaeuser. He sold the Oklahoma sawmill to Weyerhaeuser in 2007 and decided to operate the Russellville mill as a stand-alone mill.

 

Mill Operations

            Bibler Brothers buys logs from timber that is harvested on national forest land and private land within a radius of 250 miles from the mill. The log trucks are unloaded with a Price 155-foot circular crane. The grapple lifts and weighs the entire truckload of logs, and the crane operator stacks them in inventory.

            Logs to be processed in the mill are lifted by the crane and fed into a Cambio 30-inch debarker; the bark is removed and conveyed to a storage bin and eventually sold for landscape mulch. The logs are cut on a log merchandising system and then routed to one of three primary breakdown machine centers.

            The largest logs are squared up on a head rig, which is the oldest machine center. The head rig is not optimized, and the sawyer makes the decisions about the opening face. The slabs are conveyed to a horizontal resaw that can cut a flitch out of them, and then they are run through a High-Tech edger.

            The mill also has a Kockems chip-n-saw. The chipping heads square up two sides of the log, and then two side boards are sawn off. The side boards go to an edger and the center cant goes to a Ukiah 6-inch gang saw to be cut into boards.

            The third primary breakdown machine center is a sharp chain system, which is the most computerized of the three. The logs are scanned by a Hi-Tech Real Shape scanning and optimizing system that guides the chipping heads, which adjust for the appropriate cuts as the log moves along the chain.

            For secondary breakdown, two-sided cants exiting the sharp chain are transversely kicked off by sweep chains onto a sequence deck. Hooks keep the cants separated, and they proceed down the deck toward a Comact curve gang saw. A transverse scanner guides each log onto a centerline chain that goes through a Hi-Tech lineal scanner, and the optimized controls position the curve gang to cut the most valuable boards out of the cant.

            As the boards exit the gang saw, an operator separates them according to whether they need to go to the edger or to the Omega Solutions in-line trimmer with Hi-Tech scanner.

            The output of all primary cutting areas is compiled on a large conveyor and routed to another laser optimizer to determine if they are ready to be sent to the end trimmer or need to be processed further. After being trimmed to optimum length, the boards are routed to one of the two Omega Solutions 58-bay sorters, and they are scanned and assigned to a bay according to dimensions.

            From the sorter, boards go to a Hi-Tech automatic stick laying stacker. After the boards are stacked and separated by sticks, they are taken by forklift to the dry kilns or put on the green yard for storage.

            Jerry Stroud, owner and manager of Uni Temp Dry Kilns, discussed his company’s application for Bibler Brothers. “This system is ideal for a high temperature, track type drying system,” explained Jerry. “It can increase production utilizing the same energy source as the existing kiln uses.”

            The main chamber is the heart of the process and is designed similar to a conventional track kiln. “We added pre-drying and conditioning chambers on each end of the main chamber of the conventional kiln,” said Jerry. “This process utilizes BTUs from the heated lumber exiting the main chamber to pre-heat the green wood entering the pre-drying chamber as well as conditioning the exiting lumber.”

            The air flow in the main chamber is around 1,200 to 1,500 feet per minute with no venting of the kiln. The air flow in the outer chambers is considerably lower at 400 feet per minute.

            Benefits of the triple length kiln include constant set point temperatures for smoother operation, level demand loads on the energy source, ease of scheduling in loading and unloading, and an increase in lumber quality that generates more dollars per board foot, according to Uni Temp.

            “The lumber is advanced through the process on a set schedule to allow a continuous feed of dried wood ready for finishing. The energy savings is very significant, as much as 31 percent over the course of a year. With continued operation of this system, profits can increase significantly as the demand on the energy source is leveled out and all energy generated is used in the drying process. Production increases over time, which brings down the cost of drying per board foot. Also, the quality of the lumber is much better with less degrade.”

            The new kiln system at Bibler Brothers is scheduled to begin operating in December, and Terry expected immediate savings in fuel costs. “I anticipate a reduction in my gas bill of about $200,000 a month,” he said. “That works out to more than $2 million in savings over a year, and that’s with gas prices coming down, so I’m being conservative. The actual savings will depend on where gas prices actually go.”

            “This is just the most efficient way I’ve seen to dry lumber,” added Terry.

 

‘Very Efficient Process’

            Kiln-dried lumber is taken to the company’s planer mill to be surfaced. The Coastal planer, equipped with four cutting heads to surface all four sides of the lumber, operates at 3600 rpm and can surface boards at the rate of 2,000 linear feet per minute.

            The surfaced lumber then is graded by a Comact Grade Expert, which relays the grade information to the end trimmer, stamper and sorter. The lumber goes from the sorter to one of the stackers and then to one of the two automatic strapping stations; the system even-ends the package, compresses it, and places restraining straps around the bundle to prepare it for shipping.

            The lumber leaves the yard by tractor-trailer rig or is loaded onto railcars. Sawdust and shavings are sold to poultry farms, chips are supplied to a paper mill, and bark is sold for landscaping mulch.

            Bibler Brothers offers an array of benefits for employees, including insurance for health, vision and dental coverage, life insurance and disability insurance. Employees may put money into a 401(k) retirement plan, and the company matches contributions. Bibler Brothers provides company uniforms and gives paid holidays, vacation and funeral leave. In addition to their hourly wages, employees may receive incentive pay based on weekly production and attendance goals.

            Bibler Brothers has an impressive safety record. It has logged more than 1 million man hours without a lost-time incident, and as of mid-November it had more than 330 days without a lost-time incident.

            Department managers hold weekly and monthly safety meetings. All personal safety equipment, including hard hats, hearing protection, safety glasses, safety shoes, and leather gloves, is provided by the company. Employees also have access to specialized safety equipment relevant to their job, such as fall protection, lock-outs, and respiratory protection.

            Changing to the new Uni Temp dry kiln system will save Bibler Brothers money and reduce resource waste. “I just don’t like wasting anything,” said Terry. “With this continuous drying technology, we utilize the steam that we’ve been letting escape into the atmosphere to pre-heat the lumber coming in and condition the lumber going out. It’s a very efficient process.”

            Uni Temp was formed in 1946 as a manufacturer and installer of lumber dry kilns. Jerry said, “Even though we are an old company, we continually strive to stay on the cutting edge of new technology to better serve our customers. We offer new construction as well as retrofits, repairs, parts, and service on all types and brands of dry kilns. If you are looking at upgrading, converting, repairing, or adding a kiln, you really should consider Uni Temp. We are a company dedicated to building new relationships with new customers as well as maintaining our existing customer base with quality service and support at reasonable prices. We offer dry kilns, pre-dryers, pallet and wood sterilizers and treaters, as well as a wide variety of products needed in the drying or heat-treating of wood.”

            For more information, contact Jerry at  (870... or e-mail unitemp@msn.com.




 






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